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Archive for Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Reporters could face jail time in steroids case

May 10, 2006

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— Five people linked to the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative were convicted of doling out steroids to elite athletes. But in an ironic twist, two San Francisco Chronicle writers who reported on the probe could end up serving more jail time than any of them.

Lance Williams and Mark Fainaru-Wada are the latest reporters to become entangled in the federal government's ramped-up efforts to investigate leaks. They have been subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury investigating who leaked them the secret testimony of Barry Bonds, Jason Giambi and others.

The Chronicle, which published the testimony in a series of stories beginning in late 2004, is challenging the subpoena, arguing that the First Amendment protects the reporters and their sources.

Both reporters say they aren't going to talk - which means they could be fined and jailed until they divulge their sources, or sentenced to a fixed term for contempt.

"Of course, we are going to stand up for our sources and we would never betray them," Fainaru-Wada said.

A day in jail would be longer than the probation sentences for BALCO vice president James Valente and track coach Remi Korchemny, who both pleaded guilty to distribution charges. BALCO president Victor Conte got four months in prison. Bonds' personal trainer, Greg Anderson, was sentenced to three months, the same sentence facing BALCO supplier Patrick Arnold.

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